Welcome to the blog of Elder Redge Ballard!

Redge has gone from planning to fly to the Brazil MTC, to driving to the Provo MTC, to the Houston Texas Mission, and now finally he has arrived in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. We hope you'll enjoy following his adventures in sharing the restored Gospel to those he meets!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Couple of Downs, but the Recoveries are always Great :) Package came!!!

7 Lagoas at Night. Very pretty

Well, it is pretty overwhelming realizing that I've already almost burnt out my 19th year of my life and that I'm almost hitting the double decade mark. Seriously, I still feel like a little 17 year old, just with a ton of other responsibilities. As seen by that cockroach video, I'm still the same spaztic Redge every once in a while haha. It's even weirder to me to think that I've already almost hit the half way mark of my mission. I can't believe the way time passes out here, and I still feel like this is my new life and that it'll never end. It's weird too cuz one of my good mission buddies, Elder Duckett (he's from Provo. I met him here on the mission though) is going home a week from today. He was my first AP when I got here on the mission and throughout the past 7 months in brazil has helped me learn a ton. Anyways, it's just weird to realize that he's going home in a week and that it's basically the end of talking to him anymore. I dunno how to explain it... You just forget how the world keeps trucking along and that there's more to the rest of life than just the mission :D Next week's gunna be fun though, cuz we have a training meeting on my birthday, so I'll be able to see some of my mission buds on my mission, and if all goes as normal my bday lunch will be Subway!! At least it'll be a day a little bit different than normal. Oh also, monday will be when we normally get transfer calls, so that'll make it even more interesting.
  The two packages as well as the big old letter got to my right on time yesterday, and since it's a rule that we can't read letters or open packages when it's not pday, I opened up everything this morning. I even set up my little tripod and filmed it so that you guys can see how it was for me :D The video file ended up being really big though, so I dunno if i'll have a way to send it or not. Anyways, thank you so so so so much for the package and letters. Seriously, reading all you guys' letters and testimonies is overwhelmingly encouraging. Lots of times out here us missionaries get kinda downed and focused in the people that won't accept the gospel, and forget that we have tons and tons and tons of people already firmly following this amazing church. If I'm doing my job and teaching with power and authority, it's only people's agency that can get in the way of the Lord's will.
  This week was a little tough cuz we had a bunch of people to take to church and no one went, but I've learned some very important things about faith and having confidence in the Lord, regardless of what happens. It's been amazing to me the way the Lord is helping me learn and grow. I'll have a better email next week with more meat and details to it, today we have a ton of stuff to do so I'm not able to write everything. I love this work and am SO grateful for everything that the Lord and all of you do. Once again thank you so much for your testimonies! Hurrah for Israel!!
 -Elder Ballard

Elder Duckett. Such a powerhouse missionary, I'm gunna miss this guy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Return to Seven Lakes, Chain of events to an Elect, and Amazing Improvement in the Spirit

Ha, yet another emergency transfer happened this week... I got the call last pday at about 2 o clock that President needed some help cuz some stuff happened with another companionship and some changes needed to happen, so I got re-transfered on Thursday and am now back here in my old area of Sete Lagoas, with Elder Da Rosa again :D

So, being back in 7 lagoas with the same companion has been really interesting. Elder Da Rosa as well as me myself have both grown a TON in just these last 4 weeks of being with different comps. This week we've been a lot more focused, a lot better at teaching,and above everything, better at following the Spirit. It's been kinda fun going back and visiting Gisele and Caios and seeing how they're doing. Gisele especially seems to be basically a new person. The only though thing I've seen though is that ever since those first days of finding these people, up until the baptism, and then even up until now, not even one of these converts has had a visit from the members :( I'm not bashing on the members or anything cuz I wasn't at all a member missionary before the mission, but I'm learning in kinda a harsh way how important fellowshipping as well as home teaching is, and will be for me after the mission. These people that start out their new lives in the church are so new and so... well, basically like children. Their testimonies aren't all the strong, and they need the help of developed members so much. It's also been really interesting cuz when we went there to give a message or something, both of us were at such a loss of words of what to share or do to help them. It was a big testemony to me that we, as missionaries, have done our part, which is helping them start their journey. And now, it's out of our hands to help them out. It was a really interesting thing the way the Spirit testified of this. It's amazing how varied the things I've learned and am learning are on the mission.
 The work is going really really well this week. We've had a few lessons these last few days where the Spirit was SO strong during the 1st vision and the baptismal invite... Seriously the whole room felt warm and the feelings that all of us had in our hearts were overwhelming. We've been focusing on helping these members help their own friends learn more about the gospel, and in just 2 days we found 3 friends of members that have accepted the invite to be baptized! They already have this friendship with members so I'm so excited to see how they progress. We also had an awesome experience yesterday that showed SO vividly how the Lord controls everything in our lives. About 3 weeks ago in Veneza, me and Elder Gaertner had done some contacts and ran into a girl named Ingride. She said she was at her dad's house and that she lived in Sete Lagoas. We took down her info and I laughed cuz I realized it was in my old area in 7 Lakes. Anyways, 3 days ago I was talking with Elder Gaertner and he passed me the info of Ingride who I'd totally forgotten. Yesterday we went there to her house, she remembered me, and we ended up marking a baptismal date for the 28th!! It's absolutely amazing to me how every single thing that happens has a purpose. Even the problem that happened here in Sete Lagoas and having me be sent back here :) Also, Marta in my last area didn't get baptized this last week cuz of a family emergency, but she's dying of excitement to be baptized this next sunday.
 Well, amazingly enough I hit 11 months on monday... So crazy how all this works. It's beginning to sink in a little bit with my finally how with time passing the way it does, there's no going back. Even though another 13 months seems like it's a lot of time, I'm realizing that regardless of if I'm impatient with time, love my time in Brazil, or what ever other attitude I have, above all else is the fact that I only have 2 years to do this work, and a lot of that 2 years is already passed and will never come back. I'm realzing that it's the same way with life as well. Regardless of if we enjoy, struggle, or love life, the time that passes doesn't come back. Kinda intense to think about, but I'm just glad to have the gospel so I can at least progress and grow the way the Lord wants me to. I love this work, thanks everyone for your prayers. I've really needed them this week and have really felt the power from family and friends' support. This is the only true church on the face of the earth, and what a blessing it is for us to be a part of it :) Hurrah for Israel!!! I hope the Lord is blessing you all as much as He's blessing me here.
  -Elder Ballard


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Zone Conference, Ups and downs w/ our Investigators

Twas a good week this past one. We've had some really good parts with our investigators as well as some toughies, but all's still great!

Well, this past week sadly no one that was progressing was baptised. That miracle guy that we had to get baptized ended up having his parents flip a lid at him and not allow him to be baptized. Super sad when stuff like that happens, his girlfriend who's a member even had to end the relationship cuz she knows she won't marry someone who's not a member. Super sad isn't it? I know that one day things'll work out for him though, the Lord doesn't let anything happen without purpose. The lady that went to church ended up travelling during last week and now is just all lazy and doesn't want to do anything "hard" to prepare for baptism, so sadly I don't think we'll be the ones to baptize her :( We do have a family to baptize this week though, the mom's name is Marta, and she has 5 kids, 4 of which will be baptized with her. After church on sunday we went there with some members and Marta really opened up and told us how hard her life's been and how the gospel's helping her, and it was amazing. Her ex-husband is super addicted to beer, and is trying to move back in with Marta, and obviously she won't let him. She told us how when she was pregnant with the second youngest kid, they were building the house that they live in now (ya... she was helping build a house being like 7 months pregnant...) and he was drunk, go ticked at her, and pushed her off the side of the house and she fell down the hill, and it caused the kid to get born early. Luckily no permanent damage was done, but it is insane the things that she's passed through. Can I please ask for you all to pray for them? This family needs this gospel SO badly. The protection that will come, the healing from the atonement, the Spirit to be in their house, they have SO many things that they seriously just can't afford to do without. We are doing absolutely everything possible to help this family, they are super special.
 We had zone conference this week, and it's amazing how much I'm learning. This time is a little different cuz it has 3 section, so I went monday, tuesday, and I'll be going again tomorrow. My teaching is improving a ton, and last night we put the stuff we learned to the test and already found another person to be baptized the next week... It's amazing how many people the Lord is preparing. My testimony has been growing a ton lately simply of the fact that us missionaries are literally the ONLY authorized teachers that the areas we're called in have to actually help people. Here in Brazil has SO many churches, seriously SO so many, but all of them are wrong. That's been another realization that's really sunk in deep here on my mission, when Christ told Joseph Smith that ALL of the churches at the time were wrong, He meant it. The commandment, don't take the Lord's name in vain, applies with EVERY other church. It's amazing to me though, cuz sometimes these other churches help these people prepare for the gospel cuz they at least learn the basics, but there are some churches here that are truly (just as the Book of Mormon says) an abomination in the sight of the Lord. These poor people that are tricked into following them... This one church tells people to "prove their faith" by selling their cars, even houses, and giving the money to the church. Then the dumb pastor-face drives off in a ridiculously nice car and just feasts on these people who are already poor.
  Even though all this is really sad, I am SO grateful to know the truth. This IS the ONLY true church on the face of the earth. If we truly follow the paths and instructions that the scriptures and prophets give us, we will truly gain eternal life. Sometimes I really like just imagining what eternal life will be like, and even though it's way above the capability of our minds to realize just how great it'll be, I have the faith that it'll be completely worth every single big or small trial or difficulty we all'll pass through. I love this work, I am SO grateful to be an authorized teacher and missionary of our Lord Jesus Christ. I love our Lord, and I love this church. Hurrah for Israel!!!
 -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More miracles are falling, we moved houses today? And how is it August?!

Only yesterday it felt like I was turning 19 and being all excited for my mission... And here we are again already in August, I can't believe I'll be turning TWENTY this month! AHH!!

This is Elder Gaertner from Paraná
We moved houses today which was kinda crazy, I don't like packing suitcases as often as I have been out here on the mission haha. It's kinda a huge house too for what we need as just 2 missionaries. Our last house had 2 rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom, and this new one has a BIG kitchen, HUGE bathroom, and like 4 rooms. Who knows what we'll do with all the space haha.
  Well, as I was thinking about it being my birthday this month, I have a birthday request. For my birthday out here I would love letters with people's testimonies. Testimonies, favorite scriptures, favorite talks or thoughts from conference, etc. Whatever you want to send :) And obviously this is to anyone who wants to do it. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, whoever else reads these emails haha. It doesn't have to be anything long, but you wouldn't believe the kind of power us missionaries recieve just from hearing the testimonies of the people we love. So ya, if anyone wants to, I would be very grateful.
  This week was a really good one. We had 17 people to take to church, and sadly only 4 were able to go, but the members in the ward blessed us with other people who are definitely miracle baptisms that seriously "fell from heaven" haha :) Seriously, one member came up and said, "Elder, this friend of ours has already been taught all the lessons, so you guys just need to mark a interview and he wants to be baptized on saturday." So looks like we'll have a baptism this saturday haha, so amazing. I'm beginning to realize a lot of how important obedience is, cuz when you're following all the rules and commandments, God is able to bless you with SO many things. It's been amazing to me as well with how much growth I've personally had as well, seriously I feel like I'm changing so much. It's crazy to think that next month I'll hit my hump day, and my goal now is to just keep changing as much as possible so that by the year and a half mark or so, I can be the type of effective mission that God is trying to help me become. This week we have a lot of people that have the potential to be baptised, so I'm really excited to go to work. I also recieved word that last sunday, 2 of the kids in that really poor family back in Sete Lagoas got baptised!! I can't wait for the marriage of the parents to go through, and then the whole family will be members!! I love this work so much... I'm at the point now with the language and the schedule where this is the only thing I know, so now it's just trying to improve my teaching and spirituality so I can make the most of my time while I still have it.
  Thank you all for your prayers and support! I love this work and I love the Lord. Hurrah for Israel!!!

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 -Elder Ballard

This was the day I made tortillas and fajitas with that delicious taco seasoning... SO good!